I am wearing my favorite t-shirt, the one that has a picture of a dead dove with the words: “You killed the part of me that cares.” floating above it. For anyone who knows me well at all, this is a sure sign that just the opposite is true. It generally means that I care too much…. that I am feeling small and vulnerable and absolutely uncertain about how to translate all my pent up caring into something remotely resembling productive.

I found out tonight about something terrible that happened to a friend of mine, and I will spare the details here because it is her story to tell and not mine, and I am certain that she will tell it in her own way, and in her own timing. But suffice to say, she was attacked in a violent, physical way that strikes me as both an attack on her sexuality, and on her vulnerability as a woman. And I knew that something had happened before I even knew what had happened, but I waited to call… I think more than anything because on some level, I wanted so badly for her to be okay, for me to be okay… for all of us to be okay and for all of this to somehow not be so fucking painful. But it is, and there is just no way around it, so I wear my shirt, and I plead with this keyboard in front of me to somehow help me find a voice for the things I have spent a lifetime learning to leave unvoiced.

The thing I can’t quite understand- well, that is, in addition to all the other things I can’t even begin to understand like how a group of people could inflict harm on someone simply because of who they are, and the tangled role that the church has played in the creation of all of this excess hate- the other thing I can’t understand is my own reaction tonight. After I hung up the phone, I went back into the kitchen and I did the dinner dishes and then put on the unused apron that hangs next to our refrigerator, which I had never before worn in my inherent distaste for all that it symbolizes, and I baked some snickerdoodles for my neighbor. Here I am, raging and shaking at the injustices at the world, and the power that is stolen from us as women, and at the power I am just beginning to notice I have always had shut off from me as someone whose sexuality is not recognized as valid or acceptable by the vast majority of the people who surround me- raging and shaking and standing in the kitchen in a dress and apron, baking cookies for a man.

To be fair, A is a wonderful guy who is quickly becoming a good friend of mine, and he doesn’t represent to me any of the things that are wrong with this world. He is sweet and gentle, and cooks for me much more frequently than I ever cook for him. He has even forbid me to wash dishes because he hates to see women washing dishes- he says it is him way of undoing a fraction of the vast damage that has been inflicted on women by men over the centuries. So A is really not the issue here…

But as a psychologist in training, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that my choice of timing in the cookie baking points to the fact that standing there in the kitchen, whipping up those snickerdoodles, I was hiding not just behind an apron, but also behind every heteronormative defense I could muster. Maybe, just maybe, If I look real pretty and wear my apron just right… if I do what is expected of me and find myself a nice Christian boyfriend, then I won’t have to be so paralyzed with fear all the time. Fear that people here will find out the things that I have not been telling them. Fear that I will one day find myself in my friend’s position, and that I will not handle it with even a fraction of the grace and strength that she is. Fear that I will never unlearn the deeply ingrained lesson that if I am not constantly in search of prince charming to sweep me off my feet, I have missed some essential ingredient of the formula for a happy Christian life.

All in all, I would have to say that victories were in short supply this evening. And yet, for me, it is a small victory to be sitting here, typing these words. It is a victory that I have begun to piece together a patchworked network of supportive friends, all across the board in both their sexualities and in the places in which they currently find themselves. But I am learning to tell them my stories, and to listen to the similarities woven within their own. We are a motley crew, alternately limping and dancing in our own corners of the world, or more often then not, dancing even while we limp…. but as B just put it, there is a certain stability in this collective instability.

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